Duterte foreign policy ‘directionless’: ex-envoy


MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy remains “directionless” six months into his administration, as the Philippines is left with few options to assert its claim in the South China Sea, a former diplomat said.

It was “naive” of Duterte to warm up to China while “taking for granted” traditional Western allies, said retired Ambassador Jose Apolinario Lozada.
“He did not really realize that international relations are so complex,” the former diplomat told ABS-CBN News.

Lozada said it remains to be seen if Duterte can still clarify his foreign policy other than just declaring that it should be an “independent” one.
“It’s still directionless,” said Lozada, who’s espousing a policy of “interdependence.”

“What we have not explained in the last six months would be very very difficult to explain in the incoming six months.”

The Philippines lost whatever ability it had to “control or influence events” in the South China Sea when Duterte opted to “set aside” an arbitration ruling that rejected Beijing’s sweeping claims in the area, said Prof. Jay Batongbacal of the U.P. Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea.

Batongbacal said Beijing would continue to flex its muscles in the disputed area despite its supposedly improved relations with Manila.